Category Archives: Pistols

Great Animated Video That Shows How A Glock Pistol Operates: It Really Clarifies Things!

As the saying goes, a pictures is worth a 100 words. Well, this video is worth a few thousand. I am very, very impressed by the fire control group that Gaston Glock created with the three integral safeties. In talking with a lot of Glock pistol owners, they aren’t very clear on how the pistol operates and now I can share this video with folks.

This example screen shot from the video shows how a case is extracted and then ejected. The level of detail is exceptional. Note how the creator of the video shows you a faint ghost image of the pistol around the components he is demonstrating.
In part of the video, the creator shows you how all three safeties work. The above screen shot is from the part of the video where the firing pin safety mechanism is explained.

Matt RIttman created this animated video and really did a service to the firearms community. The computer animation is excellent and the operation of a Glock 19 Gen 4 is very clear. This is a must see for any Glock or Polymer80 owner. I’m not a huge fan of Glock pistols but I am of pistols with the Polymer 80 frames/receivers because of the grip angle. I’ve now built two and legally registered them in Michigan.

Here’s the Video

It’s only 2:54 long and totally worth your time:

I hope you find this as interesting as I did.


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IMI Kidon First Impressions: It’s A Range Toy – At Least For Me

Folks, I have built a couple of Polymer80 pistols – A Glock 17 clone and a 34 clone and really like them. When I heard that Polymer80 was going to import the Israeli Military Industries (IMI) Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit I got pretty excited. My first real pistol was a .44 Magnum IMI Desert Eagle in 1990. The Desert Eagle was awesome so I had high expectations for the Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit. So far, I must admit that I am disappointed. This may change with more use but want to pass on my experiences to you. To be blunt, for me it is a range toy at best in its present incarnation.

The concept was cool – have a chassis readily available in a soft-case in the trunk of your car, or where ever, that you could slide a pistol into with no tools and instantly have a much more stable platform to work with that could also enable you to mount an optic and light. This would aid accuracy immensely and you could imagine a potential appeal to law enforcement or others who might need an impromptu pistol caliber carbine.

I could definitely benefit from something like this but for a completely different reason. I was born with a hereditary tremor, also sometimes called a “necessary tremor”, that causes my hands to shake a bit. I’ve had it my whole life and I can work around it most of the time except when holding a pistol at arms length. Andrew Zachary, my CPL instructor, gave me some great tips to improve my groups for self-defense but I will never be a great pistol shooter. However, if you give me carbine or rifle, I can do a heck of a lot better off hand and hold my own with most folks if I have a rest. So, I was really looking forward to using the Kidon – not just to review it.

When Polymer80 started selling them after the 2019 SHOT show, the price was $525 but it dropped down to $350 fairly quickly so I bought one. A plus was that they included a pre-installed adapter for the Polymer80 pistol frames that I am a fan of. If you like building firearms, you have to try one of their frames – it’s like a double-stack 1911 in terms of the angle and girth but it uses Glock parts. With that said, let’s get back to the Kidon.

What Pistol Did I Test With?

For testing, I only used my Polymer80 PF940V2 frame Glock 17 clone. I didn’t test any other models. So please bear in mind you might have different results with other pistols.

The test pistol is my personal Polymer80 PF940V2 Glock 17 build. Notice the slight bevel on the front of the slide. I don’t think that affected the fit in the frame any. When I inserted the pistol into main frame of the Kidon, it was the lower that could be pushed in too far. The slide did not move.
The PF940V2 frame has not been altered in any way.

Opening the Box

I ordered the Kidon direct from Polymer80 and they were pretty quick to ship the unit. It arrived in a surprisingly large box. It turned out that the Kidon unit includes a soft case with a sling, adjustment tool and room for the M4 stock or brace.

The Kidon Pistol Conversion Kit includes an interesting custom soft case with carrying handle and shoulder strap. That is Molle webbing at the bottom. I wish it was higher or they had put more of the webbing on the bag so long magazines would not extend below the case.
Pretty cool layout. I was starting to feel my inner James Bond unexpectedly. The Kidon was looking pretty cool so far.

So, I did a quick skim of the manual to find out how to install the pistol. I’d not seen anything quite like the Kidon before and couldn’t readily guess how it all worked.

Inserting the Pistol Into the Main Frame

Basically the pistol slides forward into the chassis and is secured in place by the front rail. It is length sensitive and this is why some pistols, such as my G34 will not fit it. My Polymer80 G17 went right in. Note, it uses the Polymer80 PF940V2 full size frame and it is what I used during my evaluation – you may have better success with other models of pistols.

Okay, this is looking like something from Star Wars. The screw just above the rear of the angled fore grip (AFG), is for adjusting the clamp. Note, the AFG is included with the Kidon and is removable. Note, the main frame as IMI calls it, or the main part of the chassis as I would describe it, is a polymer. The part in front of the pistol’s barrel is a heat shield / blast shield and is made from aluminum – I think that was a good idea on their part.
The big Front Lock Lever that says “Flip Up To Lock” is what clamps down on the rail of the Polymer80 frame.

Let me share some of my observations at this point:

P1: The pistol does not intuitively slide into the “main frame assembly” of the Kidon chassis. I have yet to pick the two pieces up (the pistol and the main frame) and get them to go together with the first try. I’ve got a trick that works better though – I hold the Kidon’s main fram vertical and settle the pistol into the clamp.

P2: The clamp is not as secure as I would like and it does not lock the pistol parallel to the top rail. This causes a problem when inserting the rear locking assembly and I’ll come back to this. It also means you can flex the Polymer80 in the chassis. When I sighted in my red dot, with a laser through the bore, I found I could change the impact point dramatically depending on how hard I pushed or pulled on the pistol’s grip.

P3: The pistol can go in too far. With a Glock, pushing the slide back just a bit will disable the trigger and that can easily happen if you are in a rush. I’m getting a better feel for this but it really needs a better way to insert the frame and have it stop and lock in the proper position. I install vertically per the above and stop when the frame comes to the initial rest and no further.

Some of the above I’ve gotten better at with practice and will likely improve further but am not keen on the fumbling around. Let’s continue with the review.

Installing The Rear Locking Assembly

The Rear Locking Assembly (RLA) pushes the pistol from the rear into the Main Frame and holds it at the proper angle relative to the bore. IMI made this modular by adding a Rear Adapter Clamp. This adapter enables the Kidon to support an absolute ton of different pistols. It comes with the adapter for the Polymer 80 frame pre-installed so I did not need to mess with that.

The Rear Locking Assembly (RLA) is the part just below the rear of the main frame in this photo. It is held in place by the takedown pin in the main frame (sticking out in this photo) and two tabs that are in the sides of the the RLA. Note the pistol you see is my full size Glock 17 clone built on a Polymer80 PF940V2 frame.
Here’s a close up of the RLA. The forward part is the modular rear adapter clamp. You can just see the tabs in the middle that mate with the rectangular holes in the main frame as well.
This is the modular rear adapter clamp that is specific for Polymer80 pistols. It actually slides over the beavertail part of the receiver just a tad and both pushes it forward and holds it in place vertically as well.
You can see the rear locking adapter pushing the beaver tail area of the Polymer80 frame into position. It’s spring loaded to apply pressure.
Here you can see the tabs better plus the rear nut. I don’t know what else to call it. If you remove this nut, you can install an M4 gas tube and then whatever stock or brace you want.

Installing A Brace

In other parts of the world without our crazy short barreled rifle (SBR) laws, the unit would have an IMI brand M4-style stock on it but in the US, it ships with a nut that has a sling swivel in it instead. It does give us options though and if we don’t go the SBR registration route, we can install a brace at least. I opted for the very well done SB Tactical SBA3. Hint – use a fixed wrench when removing the end nut on the chassis – I used an adjustable wrench and it rounded it over a bit. That was my fault – I knew better but was in a rush.

Be sure to back out the set screw that locks the nut or gas tube into position.
Here’s the SB Tactical SBA3 brace – it has three adjustment positions (fully collapsed, middle and fully extended) and is very well made.
The brace simply screws into the RLA. Note, I bought a basic castle nut and installed it just to lock things in place even further. I’m old school that way.
This example shows that the adapter missed the beaver tail and went underneath it lifting the pistol up at an angle. If you grab the pistol now you can move it around and it can still fire.

It is a bit of a challenge to get that rear locking assembly to line up and go into the main frame. If you aren’t careful and purposefully watching the pistol, the rear adapter clamp may go under the rear of the pistol and cant it up at an angle. In other words, the bore of the pistol is now pointing down towards the front bottom of the Kidon’s front heat shield and the pistol can still fire.

I’ve dry fired it during testing when it was angled like that but not with a live round. I’m real, real careful now to inspect the system before I load ammo. I think the bullet may just miss the lower part of the heat shield but I say that by visually looking at the direction of the barrel’s bore when I push the back of the pistol up as high as it will go. At the very least your point of impact will be a lot lower than you expected due to the angle.

Sights, Optics and a Curiously Angled Top Rail

Let’s star with what I noticed very shortly after taking the Kidon’s main frame out of the case. The top rail is not flat. It angles upward just before the ejection port and just forward of it, it angles back down. I asked Polymer80 about this and they said they were all that way. Why? I have no idea. As it turns out I could still get my Vortex Crossfire Red Dot to zero so I’m not going to worry about even though the purist in me wishes it was flat.

Can you see the slope to the rail before and after the ejection port?
This steel rule is sitting square on the rail on the left side of the photo. You can definitely see the angle here.

Well, I installed Magpul backup polymer sights and then a Vortex Crossfire Red Dot sitting up on a tall quick detach mount from American Defense – their model AD-T1-10. I did this to line up with the sights and couldn’t quite get it all to line up. I don’t think that rail was doing me any favors even though I could get the red dot to line up with the bore laser during sighting in. So, I left the sights as a backup but am no longer trying to co-witness.

Vortex Crossfire Red Dot on a tall AD-T1-10 Quick Detach mount with a Magpul rear sight behind it,
Here’s what my Kidon case looks like as of my writing this post.

Do I have anything good to say about it?

It looks cool. The chassis is a cool concept along with the tool-less design. It does provide a lot more stability than the pistol alone – until you flex the pistol in the chassis and change the point of impact. I like that they used aluminum for a heat shield and not just polymer. I like that they enabled the use of an M4 gas tube for braces and stocks. That’s about it.

The Verdict: Based on my experience, it’s a range toy

I really, really wanted to post a glowing report. At this point, it’s a range toy. Could the problems be me or my particular Polymer80? They could be but I doubt all of them are.

At this point, it’s my opinion that it takes way too much care to assemble this thing and make sure it all goes together correctly. I do plan on taking it to the range but I don’t see its use evolving for me beyond that for the following reasons:

  1. Imagine the adrenaline is pumping and you are in a rush – fine motor skills are going to greatly impaired — there is a real high risk that the pistol will be shoved in to far and push the slide back. That slight push on the slide is going to lock the Glock-style trigger safety and not fire after assembly. You would have to test after you insert the pistol that it can still fire.
  2. Getting that rear locking assembly to mate up and go into the main frame is real hard for me. Maybe it will improve over time but I doubt I could do it in a rush with my heart pounding and hands shaking.
  3. You may pull down, push up or otherwise shift the pistol in the frame and change the zero. The combination of the front and rear clamps does not hold the pistol securely enough – I did not try tightening the front screw down to the point that the front locking lever will not release – that defeats the purpose. If the whole intent was to improve accuracy but the pistol can shift inside of the frame when too much pressure is applied to the pistol grip, then what is the value?
  4. Lastly, during the assembly process the user may fail to notice the pistol is canted downward in the frame and risk shooting the front bottom of the aluminum heat shield of the frame or at least way lower than you expected because of the angle. This happens maybe half the time unless I purposefully watch and make sure the rear adapter clamp properly engages the rear of the receiver.

Bottom line: I would carry a dedicated backup firearm before I would ever trust this thing in a defensive situation – at least based on my experience with my Polymer80. I did not test any other pistol models. Sorry I don’t have better news. If you try the Kidon and have better luck, that is great. As for me, I wish I had not spent $350. It’s a great concept but it needs significant refinement to improve ease of assembly, reliability and safety before being put in a defensive/combat/high-stress situation.

By the way, I hate posting something like this because it is a cool design but I want to give folks my honest opinion. Do your research and read other reviews and decide for yourself. I’m actually going to shoot more with it at the range and see if I can figure out techniques that work better. If I discover better ways or things that I was doing wrong, I’ll certainly post updates.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Michigan Gun Exchange’s CPL Class Was Excellent!!

This past Sunday, my wife and I attended Michigan Gun Exchange’s 10 hour Concealed Carry Firearms Training class. It was so well done that I felt I needed to write it up and pass along the info so let me give you a bit of background.

I grew up with rifles and shotguns but not really pistols. When my dad was a boy, he borrowed my grandfather’s tiny derringer to hunt squirrels. As he told me, he got excited and accidentally got the web of this thumb in front of the little barrel and shot/nicked himself. Well, that turned him off to pistols and then in WWII they were issued shot out 1911’s that couldn’t hit the side of a barn. My dad had a Marksmans Badge and was the finest shot I ever met with a rifle but he just did not care for pistols. As a result, I did not have a firearms pistol until college around 1989. What little I knew about how to shoot one, I learned from friends and none of them had formal training either. In other words, I knew my pistol knowledge was lacking big time.

So, for years now, my friend, Scott Igert, and others, have told me I need to get a Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL). This isn’t just an application where you simply fill out a form – I would have to take a class. Whoa.

What held me back was three fold – 1) I sucked at pistols and didn’t want to be embarrassed — I have a tremor and have always joked that I might do better at throwing the pistol at the target. 2) Finding the time to actually take the class. 3) Finding an instructor who could actually teach.

Getting Started

What got my wife and I to finally act was the desire to better protect ourselves. It seems like there is so much violence these days that we really owed it to ourselves and our family to proceed with the CPL. This also included the need to better understand defensive pistol shooting for both of us.

To be clear, we paid for this class and while Scott and I have been friends for years, he had no idea I was going to write this post until I sent it to him to review.

Prior to the class, I’d met Andrew Zachary only a few a times as he manages Modern Antique Firearms while Scott is at Benton Township serving as a police officer – his full time day job which he then leaves and goes to his second full time job as the owner of Modern Antique Firearms and Michigan Gun Exchange. That means Andrew gets to wear a lot of hats but he is the chief instructor for a reason — he’s really good at teaching.

That’s Andrew in the front. Brooks Bouwkamp, a range safety officer, is the fellow with his back to us fixing a target. All pistols were cleared and sitting on the tables when this photo was taken.

I was in the shop one day when Scott was working at the township in his police officer role and watched Andrew work with a young lady who wanted to buy a pistol. He was very patient and explained everything. He wasn’t talking down to her or anything negative and that made me realize that he probably was a good teacher. It was a hunch but I’ve learned a lot over the years about what makes a good teacher.

In addition to seeing his interaction, I had also heard good things about Andrew from folks who took his class. You see, on top of Andrew being a good guy, he is a certified instructor from both the NRA and USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) plus years and years of experience.

The Day of the Class

Seven us, including my wife and I, showed up at the Stevensville Grand Mere Pistol Club on Sunday, June 9th at 7:45am, and Andrew kicked things off promptly by 8am. It was raining outside so we all felt better about being indoors!

I could immediately tell that Andrew really cared about the topic and was an effective presenter – he wove in facts, stories, humor and practical tips together. He encouraged note taking, told us where to find more information in the accompanying course book and also had a projected presentation with videos.

The class was well thought out and took a big picture approach to self-defense. It’s not about how to kill or something crazy like that – it’s about how to defend yourself and it builds from the ground up. I used to take Tae Kwon Do years ago so there were a lot of parallel concepts that I could relate to. The best way to defend is to not be in the situation to begin with and only use the force necessary to stop the attack. Personally, I hope I am never in such a serious situation that I have to defend myself with a firearm.

Back to the topic – the class had two portions – most of it was us gathered at a table in a classroom setting and the other involved actual shooting at the range.

Classroom portion

Andrew started with a lot of very straight forward recommendations about avoiding incidents to begin with – be aware of your surroundings, don’t go down dark alleys, have your house light on, set the alarm, etc. The point, and it is a very valid one, is that the pistol is a last resort and a CPL license actually puts more liability on you in many cases because now a firearm is involved. A lot of legal considerations were covered both in general and for the state of Michigan specially.

In terms of a formal agenda, the classroom portion covered:

  • Developing a personal & home protection plan
  • Self-defense firearms basics
  • Shooting fundamentals
  • The legal use of force
  • Violent encounters and their aftermath

In the classroom, Andrew also had training pistols that looked like Glock 17s but were colored bright red and shot a laser. These let us safely practice our grip and trigger pull before we even got out to the range.

Range Portion

We then headed out to the very nice indoor range at the Grand Mere Pistol club. It was clean, well lit and equipped. By this time, Scott Igert and Brooks Bouwkamp had showed up to assist Andrew. This enabled them to ensure safety and give tips from multiple perspectives. For example, one time Brooks saw from across the room that one lady was canting her pistol up as she pulled the trigger.

Safety was stressed first and foremost. Ammunition was set out in five round groups and you could only load the mag when instructed. They would ensure everyone was ready and then we’d load the pistols with them always facing downrange and we’d then do the drills. After set of five rounds, we would clear the weapon and place it back on the table.

I should point out that only four folks shot at time so our class went through in two batches. My wife was in the first batch and I was in the second. Guys, there is a huge benefit to letting a true instructor explain things to your wives objectively. She learned a ton.

My fear of being embarrassed was unfounded. The other students were all starting out also and the instructor team offered tips and encouragement the whole time.

Scott is watching the student on the left. My wife, on the right, did a great job – I am very proud of her!!

Remember how I told you that I sucked at pistols? Folks, I have always had to use a bench rest to get any degree of accuracy. The following photo is from a 50 round box of 9mm 115gr Fiocchi FMJ ammo with my legally registered Polymer 80 Glock 34 clone. That middle group was done with the sights shooting for accuracy at 10 feet. The rest is from defensive point firing. This is easily half the size of what I would have done before the class. Most of the shooting world is probably better than me but I am very happy with the improvement.

Most of the rounds in the circle were shot during aimed fire. Do you see the few groups that are touching? I have never done that before in my life with a pistol without a rest. This was all from the Isosceles stance with the grip Andrew taught me that combines an isometric principle of pushing slightly with my right hand and pulling slightly with the left. I will be practicing that a ton.

Result

We wrapped up between 6 and 7pm and, to be honest, the time flew by. We did take a 30 minute break for lunch and I feel like we learned a ton. My wife and I compared notes and really liked how the class was handled and what all we learned.

Andrew on the left and Scott on the right wrapping the day up answering questions one-on-one.

If you are worried about having an instructor who is a jerk or is there to stroke their own ego, that is not Andrew. He’s there to teach and that’s the highest compliment I can give any instructor. If you are looking for class to get your CPL or even just a solid class for self-defense with pistols, I highly recommend what Michigan Gun Exchange has put together. Their phone number is 269-944-5788.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Upgrading To Truglo TFX Pro Sights On Your Glock Compatible Pistols Including Polymer80s

The factory sights on Glocks leave a lot to be desired in my opinion. I like fiber optic sights but also want sights that generate their own light at night. Fortunitely, TruGlo has upgrade sights for Glocks that can do just that. They are the TFX Pro model sights.

The fiber optics use daylight and are very nicely visible. I know there is a trend for red dot optics on pistols but I would rather opt for simplicity. The other really nice thing about these sights is that they use tritium to generate their own light at night – some sights make you charge them with a flashlight but not these. The only issue to bear in mind is that the Tritium isotopes with flouresce for about 10 years and then be dead. My thinking is that is a loooonnnngggg time from now plus it just would affect the night use at that time.

So, let’s get to it, Installation has two discrete steps – replacing the back sight and then the front sight. Both of these can be done by most home gunsmiths because the Glock design is pretty forgiving. Some pistols require a top notch MGW sight pusher to be removed but not the Glocks. The below is based on my experience installing these sights both on my Polymer 80 based Glock 17 and 34 Gen 3 compatible pistols.

Tools & Supplies

I’m kind of like Tim The Toolman Taylor, if you remember the show Home Improvement. I like tools and don”t need much an excuse to buy one in order to try and do the job the right way. When it comes to the rear sight, some guys use a 3/9″ piece of Delrin or wood dowel to tap the old sight out. Because of my hand tremor, that’s risky for me so I looked into sight pushers and decided to go with the Wheeler Engineering Armorer’s Handgun Sight Tool.

For the front sight, a dedicated Glock front sight tool can make the job a ton easier because they are shallow and have a magnet that will hold the tiny screw in position while you get it started. A regular nut driver is too deep and the tiny screw will fall into it vs. being held nicely in position.

You will need some medium Loc-Tite to secure the front sight screw.

Tape to wrap the slide and protect it is a recommended. I use painter’s tape.

Getting Started

  1. Make sure the weapon is unloaded and clear – no magazine and nothing in the chamber.
  2. Remove the slide
  3. Remove the spring and the barrel to get them out of the way – you don’t need to remove anything else.
  4. Wrap slide with painters tape to protect it from scratches leaving the two sights exposed.
  5. I did my back sight first and then my front sight.

Procedure – Back Sight

  1. To remove the back sight. I followed the instructions with the Wheeler unit and flipped the pusher over to use the angled face. Mine was set for straight-edged sights from the factory.
  2. I also oiled all of the threads on the Wheeler.
  3. I secured the slide in the Wheeler unit taking care to make sure the slide was the right height so the pusher would engage the sight and not bind on the slide.
  4. The factory Glock rear sight pushed out incredibly easily. I can see why some guys just drive them out. However, I really liked the control the Wheeler gave me.
  5. I then lined up the replacement sight and pushed it into place – checking over and over and making minor adjustments to ensure it was in the center.
  6. The Truglo has secured by a set screw that I backed out, put a dab of blue/medium Loc-Tite on and then tightened down.
  7. That was it for the back now on to the front.

Procedure – Front Sight

  1. Turn the slide upside down and you will see a small hex head screw that must be removed. I used my Glock Front Sight tool for that.
  2. Push or tap out the original sight.
  3. The replacement TruGlo unit is a tight fit I had to firmly press it into position. It is an interference fit so don’t remove a ton of material so it just falls into the slot cut in the slide. It needs to be pressed in as this helps with alignment and retention.
  4. Put blue/medium Loc-Tite on the screw before reassembly. This is mandatory. If you do not, it will shoot loose over time and you will lose your front sight.
  5. Use the Front Sight tool to reinstall the screw with the Loc-tite and tighten it down.
  6. Done.

Conclusion

I really like the TruGlo TFX Pro sights. They are very visible both during the day due to the fiber optics and at night due to the Tritium. They were well worth the investment. I hope this helps you out.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Amazon product links are at the bottom of the post.

Three Simple and Inexpensive Must Have Upgrades on Glock 17 Gen 1-3 Type Pistols To Improve Handling

I am learning a great deal about Glocks via the Polymer80 frame based Gen 3 model 17 and 34 pistols I built. In working with the pistols, I found there are three upgrades that were required immediately for me to more readily operate the pistols. Anybody can do these three – replace the slide stop, slide release lever and the magazine release. Fortunately they are relatively inexpensive so let’s step through each in this post.

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Slide Lock Lever

Okay, when I started the Glock 34 compatible pistol using the Polymer80 PF940v2 frame, I had never really stripped a Glock before. As soon as I was working with the slide I absolutely hated the barely protruding OEM Glock slide lock lever. Because of my carpal tunnel and years of abusing my hands, I could barely feel the blasted thing let along get enough grip to easily pull it down. Seriously – I hate that little part. It turns out that I’m not alone. A ton of groups make a replacement unit and they just make the slide stop a hair longer and it makes all the difference in the world. I ordered one off Amazon made by Fixxxer that has worked just fine for me.

This will take about five minutes. Procedure:

  1. Ensure the weapon is clear, meaning unloaded and no cartridge in the chamber.
  2. Remove the slide
  3. Before you remove the slide stop, note which way the depression is oriented at the top of the slide stop – the new one will need to face the same way.  The hooked face should face rearward.
  4. Use a Glock takedown tool or a small screw driver to reach in and depress the spring that pushes the slide stop up.
  5. When you push the spring down, the existing slide stop can slide right out
  6. While continuing to press the spring down, slide the new one in.
  7. Confirm the orientation is correct – the hooked surface should face rearward.
  8. Test by pressing down on the release – it should spring back up. If not, look to see if the spring fell out or there is debris in the spring channel preventing it from pushing the release back up.
  9. Re-assemble and test your pistol.

Slide Release Lever

The Glock 17 has one of the worst slide releases I have ever felt. It’s a vertical tab that gives you virtually no surface to really push down on. Now, the 34 came with an extended release and that’s where I learned that it is a way better design than what the 17 has. A ton of vendors make and sell their versions. I just bought and installed a Glock 34 slide release on my 17. If you’re keeping count, this means the 34 really on has two upgrades I would recommend as it already has the improved slide release.

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The first slide release I tried to do was a pain and took probably 15-30 minutes as I tried to figure things out I’d not seen a Glock’s insides before first hand. The second one took about 10-15 minutes and the third time (when I actually replaced the 17’s slide release lever with the 34 model), it probably took me about 5-10 minutes. In short, there is a learning curve.

Procedure:

  1. Ensure the weapon is clear, meaning unloaded and no cartridge in the chamber.
  2. Remove the slide.
  3. Use the first punch to push the trigger pin almost all the way out from right to left when you are looking down at the pistol with the front facing away from you. This should not take a ton of force. I find some light taps with a small hammer help me but some guys do it entirely by hand.
  4. I said stop short of pushing the pin all the way out because you just need to get it out of the slide release. You thin pull your pin punch back out of the release also but still capturing the trigger.
  5. The slide release lever will lift right out.
  6. Put the new slide release lever in its place.
  7. Push the pin punch back into the release lever to orient it. This worked for me vs. trying to get the pin itself back in. Keeping it all aligned was the trickiest part when I first started.
  8. Push or lightly tap the trigger pin back into place while driving the old pin punch out. Again, the punch is there keeping everything aligned so it’s acting like a slave pin. As you tap the real trigger pin in, the punch backs out.
  9. Re-assemble and test your pistol.

Magazine Release

The other issue I found was that the OEM Glock magazine release was too short for me to easily reach forward with my thumb and drop the mag. Again, found I was in good company because a ton of other people feel the same way. Now, I opted for the Tango Down Vickers extended magazine release because it just sticks out maybe an extra millimeter or so and it makes a huge difference. Some other magazine releases are really only suited for competition because they are easily bumped and the mag released.

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This is another quick and easy one. I did it one with a screw driver, once with needle nosed pliers and once with curved hemostats. All three work but I think the curved hemostat is easiest.

This will take about five minutes. Procedure:

  1. Ensure the weapon is clear, meaning unloaded and no cartridge in the chamber.
  2. Remove the slide so you have a clear view down into the magwell
  3. Remove the spring wire from the magazine release by working it out of the groove cut in the side of the mag catch. Look at the replacement unit and you will see the slot I am referring to in the middle of the magazine release that is just big enough for the wire to slide into.
  4. Remove the old unit and slide in the new unit
  5. Move the wire back into the slot and test – it should spring back out when you depress it,

Conclusion

I hope this helps you out. I find my two pistols a lot more manageable with the above upgrades and well worth it.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.

Amazon product links are at the bottom of the post.


SLR Rifleworks Mag Wells for Polymer80 PF940v2 Frames Are Great

When I first looked at the Polymer80 PF940V2 Frames, these are the full sized frames you’d use to make a Glock 17 or 34 compatible pistol for example, I noticed the magazine opening was narrow, had a minimal bevel and there wasn’t a ton of supporting material either. Cosmetically, to me anyways, it just looks unfinished.

I’ve had a number of pistols over the years and found aftermarket magwells very beneficial for two reasons – first, they help guide the magazine into position when you are in a rush and this is the biggest reason. Second, they can protect a polymer frame from a ton of abuse.

What I found out after doing some digging was that Glock mag wells will not fit the PF940v2 frame, which isn’t surprising. The one thing you also need to know is that the PF940v2 full size frame and the PF940C compact frame also use different magwells. A vendor accidentally sent me a C-series magwell and it absolutely would not fit my full size frame.

So, I did some digging and you’ll notice there are magwells of differing sizes with some having a very wide flare and some have more moderate flares. What I did find surprising is that a cottage industry has popped up on eBay sellding 3D printed magwells. On one hand, they are really cheap. On the other, I question how long they will hold up to real world abuse. I definitely knew I wanted an aluminum magwell.

I settled on a unit from SLR rifleworks. It is nicely made and fits the PF940v2 grip really well. I was so impressed that I bought a second and now have them on both my G17 and G34 pistols. My G17 is the grey pistol in the photos and the G34 is the olive drab pistol. Both are based on receivers built from PF940v2 frames.

This is the GL-MW-P80 Magwell adapter from SLR Rifleworks.
Here’s the view from the bottom.

Installation is simple. Insert the front of the grip into the front of the magwell at an angle and then push the back down to fully seat the unit. Put a bit of blue medium strength Loc-tite on the screw and screw it into the hole that is drilled in the back of the frame and you are done. Even though the used a flat head screw for presumably an even more secure hold, you can’t feel it when you are gripping the pistol.

Note that you tip in nose first and then push down the back to seat it properly.
Here is a view from the back with the screw installed.
Here’s the bottom. No, this is not a paid review. I just really like the mag well.
I’ve not had problems with any magazine fitting or dropping free. This is an OEM glock 17 round magazine and it’s also worked well with 33 round Glock mags, plus both 22 and 31 round ETS mags.
Glock 34 compatible pistol with a Streamlight TLR02 HL G light and laser plus a Tyrant Designs brake.

So, I’m very happy with the results and have no hesitation recommending them.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Tips For Building Smooth Operating Polymer80 Glock-Compatible Pistols

Folks, Polymer80 is making some solid 80% frames that you can easily machine into a lower receiver that accepts Glock parts. The design of the frame and jig are elegantly simple and the quality of the end product is really up to you. The great news is that you don’t need to be a machinist to do the work. You just need to be patient, follow instructions and pay attention to details.

In my last post, I linked to a number of resources you can use to guide you through your build. My aim is to give you a bunch of tips that can help you turn out a quality receiver. Let’s hit the four categories of things you will need to do.

Drill Six Short Holes As Labeled On The Jig

If you are concerned that this will take a ton of work, Polymer80 has designed a frame (what will ultimately become your pistol’s lower receiver). Folks, you drill six holes – the jig is marked with the exact spot and which size drill bit they supply that you should use.

The jig is clamped standing up and a hand drill is used to make the holes. Polymer80 supplies the drill bits for you. Note, my Ryobi cordless has a level indicator and it made it a lot easier to get things square.

Tips:

  • Stand the clamp on its side and secure it in a vise. It was not designed to be drilled laying on its side.
  • You want the jig to be held firmly at its bottom by the vise but do not crush/deform the plastic.
  • Using a drill with level indicators can greatly aid you in making a hole at right angles to the receiver.
  • Do not drill the holes straight through. Because the frame is relatively thin, it is forgiving if you drill a short hole slight off square, meaning not perpendicular. If you go straight through then you are way more likely to be way off, ruin the geometry and have just ruined the receiver, So, drill three holes on each side, six holes in total, being careful to line them up as best you can.
  • Take the time to read the jig markings – the M3 holes are for the pins that hold the blocks in place. The larger M4 bit is for the trigger pin.
  • After drilling, blow out your frame to get all the little pieces of plastic debris out. A common problem guys run into is having a small piece of plastic down in the slide stop spring channel that the recoil spring can hang up on. So, blow it out. I use compressed air in my shop but do what you can even if it means blowing with your mouth and visually inspecting the frame to make sure all the plastic scraps from drilling are gone.
  • Use a deburring tool or razor to carefully remove any waste plastic sticking out from either side of the plastic surface that you drill.

Remove the Tabs From The Top Of The Frame

This seems to freak people out because they think they are going to need a milling machine. You definitely do not need a milling machine – you can use a Dremel or file to remove the tabs. The trick here is to remove the tabs and have the end result look decent and not like a hack with a file went crazy and turned out something fugly.

My dad’s nail nippers – this tool is probably almost as old as me so maybe 40-50 years old. I’m using it to “nip” off each tab to reduce the amount of plastic I need to file or Dremel down.

Tips:

  • The first step is to get rid of as much of the tabs as you can with nail nippers. The idea is simple, snip off a bunch of the material so when you either Dremel or file the remainder down, you have less to deal with. On my Glock 34 build,I used an old pair of nail nippers (in the photo above) that belonged to my dad – my way of remembering him. On the second one, I took a cheap set of nippers and ground the head down so they would cut the tabs off even closer to flush. Either way works.
  • Leave the jig on if you want to play it safe. When you see red filings or dust from sanding, you know you are going to deep and need to stop,
  • You can either Dremel or file the balance down but when you get down near the surface start using a sanding block. Just take a piece of wood, wrap a strip of sand paper on it and then sand the receiver using even pressure. Start with 100-120 grit sandpaper and then go to 220, 440, and then 800. If you want to go higher, go right ahead but at some point your plastic is as smooth as it needs to be.
  • I use the little rubberized abrasive Dremel bits to smooth things out. You then apply a drop of oil and you will never know the tabs were there.

Clear Out the Barrel Channel

Again, the dreaded need for a milling machine seems to exist and again, you don’t need one. It is really important you do a nice clean job with a smooth finish or you will have seemingly random jams as the operating spring catches on some part of the frame that is still in the way.

Tips:

  • You want to only remove the designated slot they show in the instructions plus what needs to be removed is marked in the casting. Like I said, they put some thought into this.
  • DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE IT ALL AT ONCE!! You remove the material in sections.
  • If you decide to use their supplied end mill and put the frame in your drill press, do not treat the end mill but like a drill bit. An end mill bit requires a very rigid machine and that the operator has carefully and firmly secured the work piece. In short, you can’t plunge the end mill into the plastic with your hobby drill press without considerable vibration. The trick come down with the drill press (if you have one) and cut off a little crescent at a time. If you have mill, just ignore me – you know what to do I bet.
  • Some guys will use regular drill bits and drill a series of holes in the area that needs to be removed.
  • Unless you are a machinist and know what you are doing, don’t try to mill or drill material right up to the line where they say to stop at. Instead, remove material just shy of the line and then use a sandpaper to do the rest. I wrapped 100 grit sand paper around a dowel to rough in the shape and then went to 240 grit to finish up. You really do not need to go beyond that unless you want, The goal is to have a smooth surface that the barrel and spring will not catch on during operation.

Polish Metal Surfaces

When people make parts they usually get them close enough and call it even. This means there are small tooling marks, grooves, bumps and rough areas left in general. When you look at a firearm made by a high-end shop, you will notice that the surfaces are incredibly smooth – sometimes polished to a mirror-like surface.

Have you ever bought a firearm and at first it was really rough and over time in “wore in” or maybe somebody said “broke in”? What is happening is that the rough spots are smoothing out with wear. We identify the surfaces and do the same thing very easily.

These rubberized polishing bits for Dremels are awesome and you can get sets of them off Amazon.

Tips:

  • With polishing the goal is always to remove as little material as possible using polishing bits, stones or really fine 1000+ grit sandpaper.
  • Polish the hardened locking block rail system bearing in mind how it contacts the slide. You just need to polish the parts that engage the rail and not everything.
  • Same goes with the rear rail module that is just stamped stainless steel
  • Look at the trigger and polish all surfaces that rub against each other – the connector, trigger bar, etc.
  • When you are done, lightly grease these surfaces (I like SuperLube) and then cycle the action by hand a few hundred times and the same goes for squeezing the trigger. You will find that the action will smooth out even further … unless you do an awesome job polishing and everything is already mirror smooth.

In Conclusion

I hope this helps you out. My two Polymer80 built pistols are the smoothest cycling pistols I own now.

6/20/2019 Update: The Glock 34-style pistol is now my favorite. It is a tack driver and I plan to replace the trigger at some point this summer or at least go with some reduced power springs to lighten the pull.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


How to legally build a Glock compatible pistol using a Polymer80 frame in Michigan

I wrote about this also in my post about starting a Polymer80 build but thought I would break it out for people who just need to find out about this one thing – how to legally build a Glock compatible pistol using a Polymer80 frame in the state of Michigan.

For those of us in Michigan, we know we have some additional laws on pistols that other states do not. To be honest, before I started this project I wasn’t really sure that I could even do this legally so I started researching.

Before I go further, I’d better give the legal disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. The procedure I am going to outline is for a non concealed carry permit holders. I do not have a Concealed Pistol License (CPL) and my understanding is that the process is different and easier if you do have a CPL. Making registrations easier is yet another reason that I want to get my CPL this year.

Let’s Get Into The Details

To do this legally in the state of Michigan is actually pretty straightforward. First, you need to go to your local Sheriff and get a pistol purchase permit. I called first to make sure I understood where to go, what I needed to bring and so forth. All they wanted was my drivers license at this point and they did not want me to bring in any thing having to do with the pistol and definitely not the pistol itself.  This is not like the old days when you had to take your pistol in for inspection – you are just picking up forms after they run a background check on you.

The lady I talked to on the phone at the sheriff’s department was very helpful but she wasn’t sure what to do until I told her I was building from an 80% lower. When I asked her what I should do in regards to the manufacturer, model and serial number she recommended that I contact the Michigan State Police firearm records division and for your reference, their number is 517-241-1917

The folks I talked to there on two separate occasions, instructed me to complete the purchase permit form with the maker as “SELF-ASSEMBLED”, model as “NONE” and serial number as “NONE”. I filled out the rest of the information in regards to the caliber, number of shots, barrel length, overall length and whatnot same as always. I then mailed the forms in to the address at the bottom of the form.

My local Sheriff’s department was very helpful and recommended that I wait until I was done with the build because the purchase permit was only valid for 30 days. I confirmed this with the Michigan State Police Firearms Records division and they too were very happy to help.

I wrote this post to get rid of the fear uncertainty and doubt that some people seem to have. You can do this. To be safe, I would urge someone from Michigan to do their homework and confirm my findings so you can legally enjoy your resulting pistols just like I plan to.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Polymer80 First Take – How I Got Excited About Glock Compatible Pistols

Folks, I am not a huge Glock fan as a shooter. I appreciate all the engineering that went into it and it is a genuinely brilliant design but I don’t like the looks or the feel of the grip angle. With those words said, have probably pissed off at least half of you and let me explain.

Gaston Glock designed his pistols with functional reliability and safety in mind. When I look at a Glock, I can see a lot of similar design concepts to the Kalashnikov – good enough accuract, relatively loose tolerances and a polymer receiver that holds all the parts in alignment but doesn’t need a ton of strength itself. I’m sorry, but to me, the OEM Glocks are bland looking utilitarian workhorses – blocky, blackish things.

Over the past year, I have become aware of the exploding aftermarkets part market for Glock pistols. You can replace every part now it seems with flashy slides, triggers, brakes and more. There are even groups making receivers that use Glock parts but with their own twists.

This brings me to the one reason I have never personally owned a Glock even though I have shot friends’ pistols a number of times – they feel wrong in my hand. Gaston designed his pistols with a grip angle of 22 degrees relative to the centerline of the bore. He had really good reasons to do this and it works for many shooters but not me.

Scott Igert gave me some wise advice years ago – pick a pistol that feels right when you hold it – that when you bring your hand up the aim is natural and comfortable. This is sage advice because there is no magical perfect grip angle that works for everyone – I known this after making AK rifle grips with differing angles for years!

So what pistol do I tend to like in terms of feel? I like 1911s and doublestack 1911s the most. John Browning designed his pistol with an 18 degree grip handle based on his analysis of the hand and shooters at the time. Both these guys did their homework but the 1911 just feels better to me. Thus, while I have shot Glock 17s a number of times, I’ve never wanted one but I do like my 1911s.

This bring us to the part of the story I really want to convey. I’d seen ads from Midway USA and others about Polymer80’s 80% receivers (frames) that can use Glock parts. I never really was interested due to my dislike of Glocks plus the resulting costs of the builds weren’t competitive with commercial pistols.

As it turns out, I was lacking some important information that when I found them out, caused me to move ahead with building two Polymer80-based pistols.

  1. The grip angle is 18 degrees and since it is a doublestack design, it feels really good to me.
  2. The trigger guard is sculpted to allow the remaining fingers to fit under the trigger guard in a more natural manner.
  3. It has an integral Picatinny rail under the barrel.
  4. The Polymer80 frames have a great reputation for quality
  5. The Glock aftermarket parts scene was several orders of magnitued bigger than I could ever have imagined. You can pretty much create a custom pistol that looks substantially different from its Austrian ancestor.

Polymer80 makes a number of frames including ones for the G19-style compacts. My challenge is that I wear XL-sized gloves and my pinky finger does not fit onto a G19 comfortably plus I had a bunch of G17 magazines from a project I did some years back. I decided to build a full size pistol. [Click here for a list of Polymer80’s pistol frames]

So, figured it was time to give it a shot. It was Winter, I had time and I figured why not? It also helped that Midway USA was having a sale and I bought two of the PF940v2 full size frames for $110/ea to get the ball rolling. To be honest, I bought two figuring I might well trash one of the two. In other words,I had a spare just in case 🙂

I ordered a grey frame and an olive drab colored frame. I’m bored with all black weapons and I have to admit, I really like the olive drab. I do plan on doing another and may do it in black but the cool thing is that you have options.


Legal Note: In case you are wondering about the legality of building this type of pistol in your area, you will need to do some research. In the case of Michigan where I live, you need to go to your local Sheriff and get a pistol purchase permit and then fill it out with the maker as “Self-Assembled”, model as “NONE” and serial number as “NONE”. My local Sheriff’s department was very helpful and recommended that I wait until I was done with the build because the purchase permit was only valid for 30 days. I confirmed this with the Michigan State Police Firearms Records division and they too were very helpful. (Their number is 517-241-1917 so you can confirm the details . To be safe, I would urge someone from Michigan to do their homework and confirm my findings so you can legally enjoy your resulting pistols. I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice – just me trying to pass along what I learned so double-check.) I believe it is even easier for CPL holders in Michigan but can’t speak to that process.


What was in the box?

Just a few days after I ordered the two frames from Midway, they arrived. Each was packed in a stylish black box from Polymer80 and when you opened it, the basic parts are there:

  • The two halves of the red drilling jig
  • The receiver frame itself that you will need to complete
  • A 3mm drill bit for drilling the locking block pin holes
  • Two 3mmx25mm steel pins to hold the locking block
  • The front locking block, which is a substantial machined part
  • The rear locking block, that looks like a stamping
  • A 4mm drill bit for drilling out the trigger pin holes
  • A 9mm end mill for cleaning out the barrel block area
Here’s the unfinished frame sitting in the one-time use plastic jig.

Here’s the PF940v2 frame with the two halves of the jig. It is a very nicely engineered kit. You can do this!

Guys, being a 1911 fan immediately liked the feel of the grip angle and the girth due to it being a 9mm doublestack. I went from cautious to excited in a split second.

So what do you need once you have the frames?

Okay, I jumped the gun a bit when I bought the frames as I knew I needed other parts but really hadn’t sorted out the details. That’s all that was there – you still need the other parts for the lower receiver and slide – the trigger, magazine release, slide catch, slide, barrel and so forth. There was a lot easier route I could have taken but buying the frames.

The Polymer80 pistols are genuinely fun and easy builds to do. The key is just not to rush. My first one took a lot more time as I tried to verify my understanding of every step before I did it. I’ve made a ton of costly mistakes over the years so I now try to be a bit more cautious.

As I wrap up this post, let me leave you with three big tips I have learned and want to pass on to you.

  • A must-do is to read the instructions on Polymer80’s How-to page and also watch their assembly video. They step you through pretty much everything you need to know. While researching, I did a couple of blog posts about videos I liked that give you additional perspectives – click here or here.
  • I would recommend either printing out the Polymer80 instructions so you ca follow them or if you want a second printed reference to follow albeit with slightly different steps, there is a good book that you can either buy the printed or Kindly copy of “Build Your Own Semi-Auto Handgun” by X-Ring Precision. I had both during the first build and just the Polymer80 printed guide out for the second build.
  • Lastly, I found out about 80P Builder after I bought the Polymer80 units from Midway USA. They sell parts as well as entire kits that can make this both easier and more affordable. I bought completion kits from 80P Builder. I ordered a Glock 34 slide, threaded match barrel and an upgraded internals kit that included a billet extractor. Because I didn’t know my way around a Glock at all, I paid them $25 to assemble the slide and they did a great job. Once I saw how easy the slide goes together, I assembled the second unit myself once I saw the quality of the parts in the first order but I am jumping ahead. Bottom line, I’d recommend 80PBuilder.com’s kits and parts. They are nicely machined and finished plus their pricing is very good and they ship quickly.

I’ll do one more post with tips and tricks. There is some great build guidance out there (see above). The Polymer80 frames are good-to-go. They are meant to create pistols that will see real use and there are tons of posts showing guys’ pistols still going strong after thousands of rounds.

I’d recommend a Polymer80 build to anyone who wants to build a “Not-A-Glock” pistol to their own specs. Sure you can build a bargain basement Glock 17-style pistol for under $500 but where’s the fun in that. When I tell Scott that I am going to buy something and leave it alone or build something basic, he just rolls his eyes and smirks. Yeah, I can’t do that 🙂


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Steel City Arsenal Slim magwell for Polymer 80 PF940C Frames- Anodized Black

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Steel City Arsenal 9mm Upper Parts Kit for Glock Gen 1-4 Polymer 80 w/Liner Tool

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Full Replacement Parts Kit For Gen-3 Glock 17 Polymer-80 Spectre PF940-v2 LPK

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The Best Step-By-Step Book For Building a Glock-Style Pistol With a Polymer80 Frame

This is a really valuable book I had both it (the Kindle version) and the Polymer80 step-by-step guide open for every step I did.

The book’s author steps you through everything with very good illustrations to boot.  Combine this with the guidance from Polymer80 and you are going to be very well armed to enjoy building a reliable Glock-style pistol.